Key Points to Creating Justice for Victims of Grenfell Tower Fire Slaughter.

 Key Points to Creating Justice for Victims of Grenfell Tower Fire Slaughter:

1. Tower blocks cannot be rapidly engulfed by fire, without huge lack of fire cavity breaks. Alu-PE panels secondary issue to this.

2. Huge number missing hidden fire cavity breaks, means criminal gross negligence manslaughter by number of individuals.

3. This requires a major focused aggressive fast moving police investigation. Evidence secured and people interviewed and arrests made.

4. Outcome of investigation probably be used as major embarrassment to UK Conservative Government and RBKC Council, this is a risk to senior police officers careers.

5. Justice for Grenfell victims therefore requires brave influential champions, supported by demonstrations of constructive public anger.

Supporting sources:
See:

  1. “If regulations were followed, the Grenfell Tower inferno should have been impossible.” 14/6/17 Geoff Wilkinson, building inspector, UK Daily Telegraph.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/14/regulations-followed-grenfell-tower-inferno-should-have-impossible/  to get accessible copy see https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/if-regulations-were-followed-the-grenfell-tower-inferno-should-have-been-impossible/
    Highlighted Key Paragraph = “Something similar happened in Irvine [Irvine, North Ayrshire, Scotland] in 1999, after which new regulations were put out which limited the types of cladding which could be used. In particular, they mandated barriers at various points in the cavity, blocking off the ‘chimney’ on all sides. And in 2014 Grenfell’s landlords decided to install exactly this kind of cladding in order to ‘improve its appearance’ when viewed from the luxury flats nearby. The Guardian has reported that some panels used in modern cladding are only fire-proofed on the surface, behind which is up to 30cm of highly flammable polyurethane. If true, that is a major non-conformance with regulations. But even if not, were the proper firebreaks put in place behind the panels?
  2. UK Building Research Establishment (BRE) presentation on “The Fire Performance of Building Envelopes”, June 2016 https://www.ifsecglobal.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/The-Fire-Performance-of-Building-Envelopes-by-Steven-Howard-BRE-Global.pdf Highlighted Key Slide =
    External Walls over 18m in Height. A summary of [guidance from Approved Document B, 2007] Volume 2 Section 12:
    * External surfaces comply with Diagram 40 ‘Euroclasses’. Applicable to all Buildings. Additional recommendations for buildings with a storey over 18m: All insulation and filler materials should be A2-s3,d2 or better. All cavity barriers and fire stopping guidance needs to be followed.
    OR
    * Test the complete system to BS 8414.
    Note = Also gives introduction to fire spread in cladding systems, and useful list of previous incidents.
  3. “Manslaughter charges under consideration after Grenfell Tower disaster.” 18/6/17 See (is accessible):  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/18/prosecutors-considering-manslaughter-charges-grenfell-tower/  Extract= “He [Sir Keir Starmer, Labour Shadow Brexit Minister]said they would be looking at whether anyone could be charged with manslaughter following a litany of failings that led to the disaster – in which at least at least 58 people are now feared to have been killed.”
  4. “Grenfell renovation proposed temporary removal of fire protections.” 16/6/17 https://www.insidehousing.co.uk/fire-safeguards-in-grenfell-were-temporarily-removed-during-refurbishment/7020464.article to get accessible copy see: https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/grenfell-renovation-proposed-temporary-removal-of-fire-protections/ Key Extract = “To install the new pipes, the ‘fire stopping’ – systems used to seal openings and joints to prevent the spread of fire – would have had to be partially removed, under the ‘preferred option’ listed in a report from 2012 by engineers Max Fordham. The document said this option was adopted.” [Key Question=Were the fire cavity breaks replaced around the 6 x vertical service risers in Grenfell Tower, creating internal chimneys for inter-flat fire spread?]
  5. “Gross negligence manslaughter” 14/8/13 https://app.croneri.co.uk/feature-articles/gross-negligence-manslaughter Useful guide to offenses of gross negligence manslaughter compared to corporate manslaughter.
    Key passages = “The police investigate suspected cases of manslaughter. Prosecution decisions are made by the Crown Prosecution Service in England and Wales, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in Scotland and the Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland. The Health and Safety Executive is involved through a joint approach to work-related deaths between all the relevant regulatory authorities in line with the principles of the Work-related Deaths Protocol.”
    “The maximum penalty for those convicted of gross negligence manslaughter is life imprisonment. The factors which may be involved in deciding the length of any prison term include whether:
    * multiple deaths were involved,
    * the case involved a prolonged and dangerous course of conduct,
    * there was an awareness of a significant risk of death or really serious injury,
    * warnings had been ignored,
    * the defendant was pursuing a course of conduct for financial gain.” [Note = to see “duty of care” requirement between construction professionals and tenants, see Defective Premises Act 1972 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1972/35/pdfs/ukpga_19720035_en.pdf ]
     

A history of democracy is no reason for complacency.

 A history of democracy is no reason for complacency.

[Posted by Lara Keller 21/6/17]

Yascha Mounk and Roberto Stefan Foa, “The Signs of Democratic Deconsolidation,” Journal of Democracy, January 2017. http://journalofdemocracy.org/article/signs-deconsolidation There is a sharp decline in those responding “essential” to the statement “live in a country that is governed democratically” across age groups in the West. In the US for example, approximately 75% of those born in the 1930s against 30% for those born in the 1980s. The authors give this stark timely advice: “In countries where populists are already in power, by contrast, those citizens who retain a deep commitment to the core values of liberal democracy must recognize that their countries’ past stability is no reason for complacency.”

If regulations were followed, the Grenfell Tower inferno should have been impossible.

If regulations were followed, the Grenfell Tower inferno should have been impossible.

[June 15th, 2017 UK Daily Telegraph, by Geoff Wilkinson]

[Posted by Lara Keller 19/6/17]

If regulations were followed, the Grenfell Tower inferno should have been impossible

I am a building inspector and fire engineer with 30 years’ experience. I’ve overseen numerous projects across London, including new builds and refurbishments, making sure buildings comply with the proper regulations, and post-occupation fire risk assessments. Given my experience, I was shocked by the blaze which engulfed Grenfell Tower in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

At this point in time it’s very hard to tell precisely what went wrong. We don’t know where the fire started and we don’t know how it spread. What we can say for sure is how the building should have performed – and that it definitely did not perform that way. If regulations were followed, what happened at Grenfell Tower should never have been possible, and there are very big question which need to be answered. There are already suggestions that proper planning procedures were not followed.

Normally, British fire regulations assume that fires will start in one location only – and normally, this is completely reasonable. In a big tower block like Grenfell, each individual flat is a fire-tight box from which flames should not be able to escape, and a fire which starts in one tends to stay in it. That is why residents are usually advised to stay within their own rooms and wait for rescue. The fire service should arrive within ten minutes, ascend the building, and tackle the fire where it burns, while other residents sit quite happily in place.

This is also why we shouldn’t be disturbed by reports from Grenfell that there was no common alarm system installed. Most residential blocks don’t have common alarms, because they could trigger a mass panic in which everyone tries to evacuate via the same stairwell which the fire service are using to reach the fire. Unlike in a hotel, there are no fire trained fire wardens to safely direct such an evacuation. In the event that a fire grows too large, firefighters might sometimes decide to evacuate the floor immediately above. Otherwise, it’s better everyone stays where they are. That policy has worked several hundred times over the past few years without a problem.

What happened at Grenfell was something else entirely. Firefighters were on site six minutes after being called, which is within expectations. But it is extremely unusual for the fire to spread this far and with this speed and ferocity. Within half an hour or so it had travelled way beyond the first flat, making it very difficult for the fire services to control it. Even more worryingly, survivors have reported that stairwells and lobbies were choked with smoke, which should never happen: there are supposed to be means of clearing smoke from such areas. In those circumstances, “stay and hide” becomes obsolete.

And yet to me the fire spread still had a horrifying familiarity. This has happened before, and – if we are not careful – it may happen again.

In Knowsley Heights in Manchester in 1991, fire spread in a way no one had predicted via the decorative cladding on the outside of the building. These plastic or metal panels are installed to protect a building from weather or improve its appearance, but between them and the wall there is a cavity where rain can run down. In the event of a fire this acts like a chimney, drawing the hot air up through itself and making the flames burn brighter. In this way fire travelled all the way up from the base of the building to the very top.

Something similar happened in Irvine in 1999, after which new regulations were put out which limited the types of cladding which could be used. In particular, they mandated barriers at various points in the cavity, blocking off the “chimney” on all sides. And in 2014 Grenfell’s landlords decided to install exactly this kind of cladding in order to “improve its appearance” when viewed from the luxury flats nearby. The Guardian has reported that some panels used in modern cladding are only fire-proofed on the surface, behind which is up to 30cm of highly flammable polyurethane. If true, that is a major non-conformance with regulations. But even if not, were the proper firebreaks put in place behind the panels?

Once spread via cladding, the fire could have caught on curtains blowing through windows left open on a hot summer’s night. Again this is believed to have been a factor in the Lakanal House fire in 2009. That disaster occurred on a very similar night to this one.

Even if this proves to be correct, however, the building should still have been safe. For the fire to spread internally after that point it would still have to get through the fire door in the individual room, through another fire door at the front of the flat, and through yet more doors in the corridor outside. Clearly there has been a failure of multiple systems: for one to fail is perhaps understandable, but for so many to have failed all at once, in the modern era, is entirely unheard of.

The investigation will of course look into this. But another explanation may lie in reports, as yet unsubstantiated, that works were recently carried out to the gas main that runs vertically up the building. If the contractors carrying out those works did not replace the necessary fire protection after finishing, that would be an easy way for fire to spread. Anything that creates a path for fire can and will be used in that fashion. Even a drill-hole of four inches in diameter can be enough. And if there are combustible materials in ducts – plastic pipes, plastic wires – flames can creep rapidly through a building without the fire service even knowing.

The Lakanal House fire led to specific recommendations. All landlords were given clear, copious information on fire precautions and told to undertake regular risk assessments. People like me then go around the tower blocks checking for ducts that need to be blocked or cladding that needs to be fixed. The problem is that we never really know whether the works we recommend are actually carried out, or, if they were, how long they took. There is no easy way to check whether landlords have carried out their duty.

Worse, there is an ongoing issue around contractors who don’t understand what they need to do to ensure fire safety. Anyone who the landlord allows to alter or amend a building, in any way, shape or form, must be made aware of which walls are fire walls and which materials need to be replaced after they’re done. That, too, doesn’t always happen.

We shouldn’t overstate the danger. There are literally thousands of blocks like this across the UK and there are probably several hundred fires which start in them every year. These fires usually don’t spread and are dealt with in exactly the expected fashion; more people probably die in fires in two- or three-storey houses than in tower blocks.

Nevertheless, the standard of safety across London is highly variable. Some landlords are right on top of it, and act on issues that are reported within a matter of hours. Others don’t give fire safety the priority that it requires.

What’s frustrating is that we are all familiar with going into a toilet block and seeing a register on the wall to show that someone has gone round to check it is clean. There’s no such process for fire safety. Perhaps we need to make landlords post evidence of regular risk assessments in communal areas so residents can see exactly what has been checked and what hasn’t. Or perhaps we need to give fire brigades the resources to conduct building inspections themselves, as they did back in the 1970s. Nowadays, buildings are effectively self-certified.

Whether regulations and recommendations were followed in this case will come out in the wash. But indications on the council’s website indicate the building was approved on a “building notice”. This type of fast track planning application saves the need to submit detailed proposals and plans to the building inspector and relies on the experience of the inspector to recognise and approve the works by eye. This type of application is wholly inappropriate for large complex buildings and should only be used on small, simple domestic buildings.

Nobody can turn around after Knowsley, Irvine and Lakanal and say they didn’t know there were risks. The guidance was there, the instructions were clear, and we knew the problem. The question is now whether we will do anything about it.

[Geoff Wilkinson is the managing director of Wilkinson Construction Consultants]

Grenfell renovation proposed temporary removal of fire protections

Grenfell renovation proposed temporary removal of fire protections

[Posted by Lara Keller on 19/6/17]

14 June 2017 2:40 pm By Luke Barratt

Safeguards intended to prevent the spread of fire from floor to floor were set to be temporarily removed from Grenfell Tower during a refurbishment, according to documents from the planning application.

A fire tore through the 24-storey Kensington tower block in the early hours of this morning, spreading quickly between floors. The cause of the fire and the cause of the spread are not yet known.

The 2016 refurbishment, which took place after the most recent full fire risk assessment on the tower, included the installation of a new heating system in the tower. This required the replacement of the pipes in the floors.

To install the new pipes, the ‘fire stopping’ – systems used to seal openings and joints to prevent the spread of fire – would have had to be partially removed, under the “preferred option” listed in a report from 2012 by engineers Max Fordham. The document said this option was adopted.

The intention, according to the sustainability and energy statement, was to replace the fire stopping once the new pipes had been installed.

Max Fordham did not respond to enquiries about the safeguards put in place to ensure that fire stopping was replaced properly.

According to information released by Kensington and Chelsea Council under the Freedom of Information Act, the most recent fire risk assessment on the tower was in December 2015, before this work took place.

The heating system in the tower uses pipework in the floor underneath every flat, and according to the sustainability and energy statement, engineers needed to replace all pipes to update the heating system, meaning that fire stopping was removed from every floor in the building.

These plans were approved by the council in 2014, when officers noted that the new heating system would “provide a significant improvement to the sustainability of the building”.

Rydon, the construction company which carried out the refurbishment, has issued the following statement: “We are shocked to hear of the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower and our immediate thoughts are with those that have been affected by the incident, their families, relatives and friends.

“Rydon completed a refurbishment of the building in the summer of 2016 for KCTMO [Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation] on behalf of the council, which met all required building control, fire regulation and health and safety standards. We will co-operate with the relevant authorities and emergency services and fully support their enquiries into the causes of this fire at the appropriate time.

“Given the ongoing nature of the incident and the tragic events overnight, it would be inappropriate for us to speculate or comment further at this stage.”

[Source= http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/fire-safeguards-in-grenfell-were-temporarily-removed-during-refurbishment/7020464.article]

Corbyn is not who he pretends to be judged by his dictator friendly foreign policy ideas.

jeremyCorbyn26May2017 - Copy

Corbyn is not who he pretends to be judged by his dictator friendly foreign policy ideas.

[Posted by Lara Keller 8/6/17]

On the 26th May 2017 Jeremy Corbyn the leader of the UK Labour Party gave a speech on terrorism and foreign policy (see full text https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/full-text-of-jeremy-corbyns-speech-on-terrorism-and-foreign-policy-after-22nd-may-manchester-terrorist-attack/). He “laid out his vision for British foreign policy”. This speech followed the horrific suicide bomb attack on a concert for young people (among them many children) in Manchester. No sensible person could not applaud his initial heart-felt comments on this heinous act and the need to avoid division.

He then goes on …. “I have spent my political life working for peace and human rights and to bring an end to conflict and devastating wars. That will almost always mean talking to people you profoundly disagree with. That’s what conflict resolution is all about. But do not doubt my determination to take whatever action is necessary to keep our country safe and to protect our people on our streets, in our towns and cities, at our borders.”

He was leader of the UK “Stop the War Coalition” between 2011 and 2015. An organisation which arose as a front for the hard-left “Socialists Workers Party” who provide most of its executive officers. There is a “steering committee” that drags in a broader bunch of well-known progressive names, which give it a softer left image. Jeremy Corbyn still stands by this organisation and supports it work. He was one of the founding members as and “officers” while a “back bench” Labour MP in 2001.

Stop The War Coalition always campaigns against any intervention, against the brutal excesses of nominally “leftist” dictatorships. They do not campaign for good intervention, just no intervention. They appear to be a foreign dictator PR firm, designed to dupe the well intentioned. Jeremy Corbyn is lying when he gives the impression he consistently works for “peace and human rights”. A brutal dictatorship is not at peace, and certainly does not defend human rights. The list of dictators campaigned for includes Saddam Hussein, Ali Khamenei (Iran), Muammar Gaddafi (Libya) and Bashar Assad (Syria). Several of its prominent founding members also campaigned for Slobodan Milošević back in the 1990s. I am more sympathetic to their campaigns against Western supported dictatorships or ultra nationalist regimes, in particular the destructive Saudi Monarchy and Zionist Israel. However Stop The War’s degree of wilfully naïve partisanship is preposterous.

Jeremy Corbyn then pledges in his speech to end the austerity cuts effecting the emergency and police services. He then goes on to what a Labour Government’s foreign policy would be …. “We will also change what we do abroad. Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home.”

This he says does not reduce the moral responsibility of terrorists ….. “But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people that fights rather than fuels terrorism.”

Jeremy Corbyn misses the core reason for Extremist Islamist Terrorism in the West. Extremist Islamist movements come from social conditions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region). A small minority of Young Muslims in the West are brain washed into believing they can be important supporters of these movements. The root of the problem is in the MENA region.

The objective of Extremist Islamist Terrorism is to get the West to withdraw support for all regimes and retreat from power politics in the region. This goes beyond “wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya”. The 9/11 attacks were justified by the presence of American military support for the Saudi monarchy. Extremist groups claim that their terrorist attacks are due to high profile direct Western military interventions, but why accept their propaganda at face value?

In the same sense Western Intelligence Agencies need to remind the public that they need more resources when more people are recruited to extreme groups, as a result of extremist propaganda that uses propaganda about incompetent direct Western military interventions. The extra supporters means extra expensive surveillance work. This does not mean terrorism would disappear without direct military intervention, what changes is the pattern of recruitment. Once again Corbyn is taking intelligence service PR at face value.

Corbyn’s comment also reveals that he is unable to acknowledge that Libyans were fighting to overthrow the brutal Gaddafi dictatorship, rather than just a “war”. One of these fighters, Salman Abedi, who had turned to so called “Islamic State (IS)” was the Manchester bomber. The initial success of IS – which terrorists are trying to defend – was due to incompetent interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria. More effort should have been made in each case to empower local populations to create well-resourced forces under central command to provide security. In each case the West deliberately avoided this strategy, even against direct appeals from opposition activists. Where was the progressive movement to stop this deliberate negligence? Instead the UK got popular ill-informed reactionary “hands off …..” campaigns, with Stop The War Coalition are their core.

Apart from foreign policy, Corbyn’s speech then goes on to state the causes of terrorism include radicalisation that “falsely drawing authority from Islamic beliefs”. He blandly says ….. “We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism”. The equally bland solution he suggests involves supporting the UK Armed Services and Foreign Office in “engaging with the world in a way that reduces conflict and builds peace and security.” He makes a good point that the UK Army will only get involved when “when there is a plan and you [Army] have the resources to do your job to secure an outcome that delivers lasting peace”. He is taking a swipe at the disastrous invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq that were motivated by revenge and greed.

His emotional commitment to the UK is that …. “I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government. There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people. No government can prevent every terrorist attack. If an individual is determined enough and callous enough, sometimes they will get through. …. But the responsibility of government is to minimise that chance, to ensure the police have the resources they need, that our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country, and that at home we never surrender the freedoms we have won, and that terrorists are so determined to take away……”

A section of rousing volubility ends with a sentiment no one could argue against ….. “[We must] Stand together in memory of those who have lost their lives. Stand together in solidarity with the city of Manchester. And – stand together for democracy. ….. Because when we talk about British values, including tolerance and mutual support, democracy is at the very heart of them. And our General Election campaigns are the centrepieces of our democracy – the moment all our people get to exercise their sovereign authority over their representatives. ….. They all remind us that our government is not chosen at an autocrats’ whim or by religious decree and never cowed by a terrorist’s bomb.”

The problem with this is obvious, he has spent his political career arguing for appeasing the dictators, whose whim chooses governments. He professes to be anti-racist but is content to campaign for non-intervention against brutal dictatorships who deny their non-Western citizens representative government. Even attempting to deny them support when they rise up in rebellion against these dictators and against incredible odds. This stands starkly at odds with “solidarity, humanity and compassion” that he claims will inform a potential Labour Government under Corbyn’s leadership.

If the West does react to Extremist Islamist terrorism by attempting to “minimise that chance” as its only impetrative, then this means giving in, to the core demands of Extremist Islamism that the UK (and by extension of reasoning the West) withdraws from power politics in the MENA region. A region full of dictatorships and authoritarian regimes that do not depend for stability on popular domestic support. This means that the vacuum will be filled by other outside powers. This means Russia and China who have zero interest in promoting representative government, and have even less accountable foreign policies, than hypocritical Western foreign policies that can at least be influenced by democratic politics. In any case responding to terrorism by letting foreign extremists dictate foreign policy is not sustainable.

His speech then goes on to reason that respecting democracy makes obligations on election campaigning …. “So, let the quality of our debate, over the next fortnight, be worthy of the country we are proud to defend. Let’s have our arguments without impugning anyone’s patriotism and without diluting the unity with which we stand against terror.” His past political stances on foreign policy, especially with “Stop The War Coalition”, have avoided being both patriotic or progressive. Stating this is a matter of objective reality.

He ends with “Together, we will be stronger. Together we can build a Britain worthy of those who died and those who have inspired us all in Manchester this week.”

If Corbyn was who he pretends to be, then he would know the way to defeat Extremist Islamism, is to act in partnership with the alternative, which is genuine representative government in the Middle East. Lack of Western support for the Arab Democratic Uprising in 2011 has given Extremist Islamism an opportunity to reassert itself as the only alternative to current despotic stagnation. This is the mistake which Corbyn embraces, as does his rival the UK Prime Minister Theresa May (see https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/blinkered-theresa-may-and-blinkered-western-extremist-islamists-enough-is-enough/).

Blinkered Theresa May and Blinkered Western Extremist Islamists: Enough is Enough

theresaMayJun2017 - Copy

Blinkered Theresa May and Blinkered Western Extremist Islamists: Enough is Enough

[Posted by Lara Keller 6/6/17]

On the 4th June the UK Prime Minister Theresa May made a statement given outside 10 Downing Street following the brutal terrorist attack in London the previous day. No reasonable person could not support her initial comments praising the response and courage of the police and emergency services. She then stated befittingly “…. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their friends, families and loved ones”. This was the third terrorist attack in the UK in the last three months (the worst one in Manchester on the 22nd May targeted a concert attended by teenagers and children with a large shrapnel suicide bomb). Five other terrorist plots had been averted over the same time.

She stated: “They [these attacks] are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism. It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.”

This ideology could not be defeated by military intervention or counter-terrorism alone. She stated: “It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.”

She claimed this could be done by online censorship, by becoming “far more robust in identifying it [Extremist Islamism] and stamping it out” in UK society and increasing the length of prison sentences for all offenses related to terrorism.

She concludes: “Since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism, our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public. But it is time to say enough is enough…………..” [see full text https://partnershipblog.wordpress.com/2017/06/06/full-text-theresa-mays-statement-on-3rd-june-2017-london-bridge-terrorist-attack/ ].

This will require in Theresa May’s own words “some difficult and often embarrassing conversations”. This goes both ways, and there are some very strong and distressing criticisms of mainstream politicians that must also be made, that go far beyond arguments about police cuts.

Theresa May said “It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them [UK Extremist Islamists] understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.” This statement shows a miserable poverty of understanding of the problem of Western Extremist Islamist violence.

Extremist Islamist movements come from social conditions in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region). She is right that this has nothing to do with Islam as such. A small minority of Young Muslims in the West are brain washed into believing they can be important supporters of these movements. The root of the problem is in the MENA region.

Imagine having this conversation about the superiority of “pluralistic British values” with the average citizen of an average MENA country. It is a grim reality that this country’s government will be authoritarian, where dissent is not tolerated, and elections if they exist are rigged. The economy will be under pressure, with high unemployment and widespread corruption. This imagined citizen may well agree with you about “pluralistic British values”, but respond “this is great in theory but there is nothing we can do about it.”

The main reason for the failure of the Arab Democratic Movement (“Arab Spring”) from 2011 onwards, is the failure of the West to competently or vigorously support rebellions against a network of powerful MENA authoritarian regimes. The blame has been directed at the rebels and their organisations, when in reality Western governments have deliberately avoided empowering these organisations. This has resulted in a fragmented Libya, and a slow death in Syria. It has given opportunities to a strong counter revolution fueled by the Gulf States (in particular Saudi Arabia) and Iran. In Tunisia the West has done little to encourage post Revolution economic revival. In Egypt the economic control wielded by the (Western leaning) military establishment defeated the Muslim Brotherhood’s brief government, while the West did nothing to assist them.

These “superior pluralistic values” stop at the borders of the West. What escapes these borders is nationalistic self-interest and empty words. The West has given the world military technological innovations that enable stronger modern forms of authoritarianism to flourish beyond its borders. This expensive technology gives a smaller elite the power to dominate a whole population. Historical western revolutions (and threats of effective revolutions) against tyrannies were successful because in relative terms, numbers of people were more important when compared to technology. Under the state of military technology today, these revolutions would have been crushed.

We need humility. To effectively engage with Young Muslims in the West about the superiority of “pluralistic British (ie Western) values”, also requires an acknowledgement that they have a right to be concerned about social conditions in the MENA that is the core of the Islamic world, and most importantly acknowledge that people in the MENA region need solidarity that Western governments have not been giving them. The alternative to this is hypocrisy.

I believe in democracy that balances liberty with social welfare, and this is why I also believe in solidarity that does not stop at any border. I have to support those at home and abroad who believe in this. It is Theresa May who needs to get serious about taking off her blinkers, if her government is to do anything effective about the blinkers of Extremist Islamists.

 

 

Criticism of Pro-Assad Apologists Collection:

 [By Lara Keller Last Updated 6th June 2017]

Criticism of Pro-Assad Apologists (LK):

Posted 2017

Dear Sir Mark Rylance, Listen To Syrians, Not Stop The War Coalition

God save us. God save Syria.

It is absurd for Syrians not to have representative government.

Posted 2016

Excellent summary of West progressives’ betrayal of Syrians  (Mark Boothroyd)

Criticism of detached myopia of West-centric expert Marc Lynch on Syria.

Stunning Article Syria’s Voice of Conscience Has a Message for the West

Examination of Pro Assad Attitudes in Briefing Paper for UK Labour Party MPs.

UK Labour Party’s Dishonest Leaked Briefing Paper To MPs Prior To Syria Debate on 11/10/16

Supporting non-action on Assad Death Machine, this is reactionary …..

The strange world of UK Stop The War statement for 2016.

Two Great Articles On “Engaging” with UK “Stop The War Coalition” and their Betrayal Of Syrians.

Posted 2015

Three more brilliant articles on “one eyed” insane anti-imperialism in Syria.

A great article on “one eyed” insane anti-imperialism in Syria and Libya.

“Stop The War Coalition” (STWuk) is exactly the problem.

Two excellent articles on one eyed insane “anti-imperialism”.

Excellent article on Syrian Solidarity by Charles Davis

Assad Regime: Arguments Against Non-intervention

Time to look at misjudgements about good intervention. UK Guardian Editorial 2013.

Assad’s UK Apologist’s [2013] part 2

Assad’s UK Apologist’s [2013]

 

Full Text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on terrorism and foreign policy after 22nd May Manchester Terrorist Attack

jeremyCorbyn26May2017 - Copy

Full Text of Jeremy Corbyn’s speech on terrorism and foreign policy after 22nd May Manchester Terrorist Attack

[Posted by Lara Keller 6/6/17]

Full text of UK Labour Party Leader’s speech given in London on the 26th May following the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester on the 22nd May. The Labour leader laid out his vision for British foreign policy. This is provided for your information, the views expressed by Jeremy Corbyn do not necessarily reflect the views expressed in this site:

“Our whole nation has been united in shock and grief this week as a night out at a concert ended in horrific terror and the brutal slaughter of innocent people enjoying themselves. When I stood on Albert Square at the vigil in Manchester, there was a mood of unwavering defiance. The very act of thousands of people coming together sent a powerful message of solidarity and love. It was a profound human impulse to stand together, caring and strong. It was inspiring.

In the past few days, we have all perhaps thought a bit more about our country, our communities and our people. The people we have lost to atrocious violence or who have suffered grievous injury, so many of them heart-breakingly young .

The people who we ask to protect us and care for us in the emergency services, who yet again did our country proud: the police; firefighters and paramedics; the nurses and doctors; people who never let us down and deserve all the support we can give them. And the people who did their best to help on that dreadful Monday night – the homeless men who rushed towards the carnage to comfort the dying, the taxi drivers who took the stranded home for free, the local people who offered comfort, and even their homes, to the teenagers who couldn’t find their parents.

They are the people of Manchester. But we know that attacks, such as the one at the Manchester Arena, could have happened anywhere and that the people in any city, town or village in Britain would have responded in the same way.

It is these people who are the strength and the heart of our society. They are the country we love and the country we seek to serve. That is the solidarity that defines our United Kingdom. That is the country I meet on the streets every day; the human warmth, the basic decency and kindness.

It is our compassion that defines the Britain I love. And it is compassion that the bereaved families need most of all at this time. To them I say: the whole country reaches out its arms to you and will be here for you not just this week, but in the weeks and years to come. Terrorists and their atrocious acts of cruelty and depravity will never divide us and will never prevail.

They didn’t in Westminster two months ago. They didn’t when Jo Cox was murdered a year ago. They didn’t in London on 7/7. The awe-inspiring response of the people of Manchester, and their inspirational acts of heroism and kindness, are a living demonstration that they will fail again.

But these vicious and contemptible acts do cause profound pain and suffering, and, among a tiny minority, they are used as an opportunity to try to turn communities against each other.

So let us all be clear, the man who unleashed carnage on Manchester, targeting the young and many young girls in particular, is no more representative of Muslims, than the murderer of Jo Cox spoke for anyone else. Young people and especially young women must and will be free to enjoy themselves in our society.

I have spent my political life working for peace and human rights and to bring an end to conflict and devastating wars. That will almost always mean talking to people you profoundly disagree with. That’s what conflict resolution is all about. But do not doubt my determination to take whatever action is necessary to keep our country safe and to protect our people on our streets, in our towns and cities, at our borders.

There is no question about the seriousness of what we face. Over recent years, the threat of terrorism has continued to grow. You deserve to know what a Labour Government will do to keep you and your family safe. Our approach will involve change at home and change abroad.

At home, we will reverse the cuts to our emergency services and police. Once again in Manchester, they have proved to be the best of us. Austerity has to stop at the A&E ward and at the police station door. We cannot be protected and cared for on the cheap. There will be more police on the streets under a Labour Government. And if the security services need more resources to keep track of those who wish to murder and maim, then they should get them.

We will also change what we do abroad. Many experts, including professionals in our intelligence and security services have pointed to the connections between wars our government has supported or fought in other countries, such as Libya, and terrorism here at home.

That assessment in no way reduces the guilt of those who attack our children. Those terrorists will forever be reviled and implacably held to account for their actions.

But an informed understanding of the causes of terrorism is an essential part of an effective response that will protect the security of our people, that fights rather than fuels terrorism.

Protecting this country requires us to be both strong against terrorism and strong against the causes of terrorism. The blame is with the terrorists, but if we are to protect our people we must be honest about what threatens our security.

Those causes certainly cannot be reduced to foreign policy decisions alone. Over the past fifteen years or so, a sub-culture of often suicidal violence has developed amongst a tiny minority of, mainly young, men, falsely drawing authority from Islamic beliefs and often nurtured in a prison system in urgent need of resources and reform. And no rationale based on the actions of any government can remotely excuse, or even adequately explain, outrages like this week’s massacre. But we must be brave enough to admit the war on terror is simply not working. We need a smarter way to reduce the threat from countries that nurture terrorists and generate terrorism.

That’s why I set out Labour’s approach to foreign policy earlier this month. It is focused on strengthening our national security in an increasingly dangerous world.

We must support our Armed Services, Foreign Office and International Development professionals, engaging with the world in a way that reduces conflict and builds peace and security.

Seeing the army on our own streets today is a stark reminder that the current approach has failed. So, I would like to take a moment to speak to our soldiers on the streets of Britain. You are doing your duty as you have done so many times before.

I want to assure you that, under my leadership, you will only be deployed abroad when there is a clear need and only when there is a plan and you have the resources to do your job to secure an outcome that delivers lasting peace.

That is my commitment to our armed services. This is my commitment to our country. I want the solidarity, humanity and compassion that we have seen on the streets of Manchester this week to be the values that guide our government. There can be no love of country if there is neglect or disregard for its people. No government can prevent every terrorist attack. If an individual is determined enough and callous enough, sometimes they will get through.

But the responsibility of government is to minimise that chance, to ensure the police have the resources they need, that our foreign policy reduces rather than increases the threat to this country, and that at home we never surrender the freedoms we have won, and that terrorists are so determined to take away. Too often government has got it wrong on all three counts and insecurity is growing as a result. Whoever you decide should lead the next government must do better.

Today, we must stand united. United in our communities, united in our values and united in our determination to not let triumph those who would seek to divide us. So for the rest of this election campaign, we must be out there demonstrating what they would take away: our freedom; our democracy; our support for one another. Democracy will prevail. We must defend our democratic process, win our arguments by discussion and debate, and stand united against those who would seek to take our rights away, or who would divide us.

Last week, I said that the Labour Party was about bringing our country together. Today I do not want to make a narrow party political point. Because all of us now need to stand together. Stand together in memory of those who have lost their lives. Stand together in solidarity with the city of Manchester. And – stand together for democracy.

Because when we talk about British values, including tolerance and mutual support, democracy is at the very heart of them. And our General Election campaigns are the centrepieces of our democracy – the moment all our people get to exercise their sovereign authority over their representatives.

Rallies, debates, campaigning in the marketplaces, knocking on doors, listening to people on the streets, at their workplaces and in their homes – all the arts of peaceful persuasion and discussion – are the stuff of our campaigns.

They all remind us that our government is not chosen at an autocrats’ whim or by religious decree and never cowed by a terrorist’s bomb.

Indeed, carrying on as normal is an act of defiance – democratic defiance – of those who do reject our commitment to democratic freedoms.

But we cannot carry on as though nothing happened in Manchester this week.

So, let the quality of our debate, over the next fortnight, be worthy of the country we are proud to defend. Let’s have our arguments without impugning anyone’s patriotism and without diluting the unity with which we stand against terror.

Together, we will be stronger. Together we can build a Britain worthy of those who died and those who have inspired us all in Manchester this week. Thank you.”

.

Full Text Theresa May’s Statement on 3rd June 2017 London Bridge Terrorist Attack.

theresaMayon4Jun2017 - Copy

Full Text Theresa May’s Statement on 3rd June 2017 London Bridge Terrorist Attack.
[Lara Keller, Last Updated 6/6/17]

Full text of Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement given outside 10 Downing Street on the 4th June following the terrorist attack in London the previous day. This is provided for your information, the views expressed by Theresa May do not necessarily reflect the views expressed in this site:

“Last night, our country fell victim to a brutal terrorist attack once again. As a result I have just chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency committee and I want to update you with the latest information about the attack.

Shortly before 10:10 yesterday evening, the Metropolitan Police received reports that a white van had struck pedestrians on London Bridge. It continued to drive from London Bridge to Borough Market, where 3 terrorists left the van and attacked innocent and unarmed civilians with blades and knives.

All 3 were wearing what appeared to be explosive vests, but the police have established that this clothing was fake and worn only to spread panic and fear.

As so often in such serious situations, the police responded with great courage and great speed. Armed officers from the Metropolitan Police and the City of London Police arrived at Borough Market within moments, and shot and killed the 3 suspects. The terrorists were confronted and shot by armed officers within 8 minutes of the police receiving the first emergency call.

Seven people have died as a result of the attack, in addition to the 3 suspects shot dead by the police. Forty-eight people are being treated in several hospitals across London. Many have life-threatening conditions.

On behalf of the people of London, and on behalf of the whole country, I want to thank and pay tribute to the professionalism and bravery of the police and the emergency services – and the courage of members of the public who defended themselves and others from the attackers. And our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and with their friends, families and loved ones.

This is, as we all know, the third terrorist attack Britain has experienced in the last 3 months. In March, a similar attack took place, just around the corner on Westminster Bridge. Two weeks ago, the Manchester Arena was attacked by a suicide bomber. And now London has been struck once more.

And at the same time, the security and intelligence agencies and police have disrupted 5 credible plots since the Westminster attack in March.

In terms of their planning and execution, the recent attacks are not connected. But we believe we are experiencing a new trend in the threat we face, as terrorism breeds terrorism, and perpetrators are inspired to attack not only on the basis of carefully-constructed plots after years of planning and training – and not even as lone attackers radicalised online – but by copying one another and often using the crudest of means of attack.

We cannot and must not pretend that things can continue as they are. Things need to change, and they need to change in 4 important ways.

First, while the recent attacks are not connected by common networks, they are connected in one important sense. They are bound together by the single, evil ideology of Islamist extremism that preaches hatred, sows division, and promotes sectarianism. It is an ideology that claims our Western values of freedom, democracy and human rights are incompatible with the religion of Islam. It is an ideology that is a perversion of Islam and a perversion of the truth.

Defeating this ideology is one of the great challenges of our time. But it cannot be defeated through military intervention alone. It will not be defeated through the maintenance of a permanent, defensive counter-terrorism operation, however skilful its leaders and practitioners. It will only be defeated when we turn people’s minds away from this violence – and make them understand that our values – pluralistic, British values – are superior to anything offered by the preachers and supporters of hate.

Second, we cannot allow this ideology the safe space it needs to breed. Yet that is precisely what the internet – and the big companies that provide internet-based services – provide. We need to work with allied, democratic governments to reach international agreements that regulate cyberspace to prevent the spread of extremism and terrorist planning. And we need to do everything we can at home to reduce the risks of extremism online.

Third, while we need to deprive the extremists of their safe spaces online, we must not forget about the safe spaces that continue to exist in the real world. Yes, that means taking military action to destroy ISIS in Iraq and Syria. But it also means taking action here at home. While we have made significant progress in recent years, there is – to be frank – far too much tolerance of extremism in our country.

So we need to become far more robust in identifying it and stamping it out – across the public sector and across society. That will require some difficult and often embarrassing conversations, but the whole of our country needs to come together to take on this extremism – and we need to live our lives not in a series of separated, segregated communities but as one truly United Kingdom.

Fourth, we have a robust counter-terrorism strategy that has proved successful over many years. But as the nature of the threat we face becomes more complex, more fragmented, more hidden, especially online, the strategy needs to keep up. So in light of what we are learning about the changing threat, we need to review Britain’s counter-terrorism strategy to make sure the police and security services have all the powers they need.

And if we need to increase the length of custodial sentences for terrorism-related offences, even apparently less serious offences, that is what we will do.

Since the emergence of the threat from Islamist-inspired terrorism, our country has made significant progress in disrupting plots and protecting the public. But it is time to say enough is enough. Everybody needs to go about their lives as they normally would. Our society should continue to function in accordance with our values. But when it comes to taking on extremism and terrorism, things need to change.

As a mark of respect the 2 political parties have suspended our national campaigns for today. But violence can never be allowed to disrupt the democratic process. So those campaigns will resume in full tomorrow. And the general election will go ahead as planned on Thursday.

As a country, our response must be as it has always been when we have been confronted by violence. We must come together, we must pull together, and united we will take on and defeat our enemies.

[Source = https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/pm-statement-following-london-terror-attack-4-june-2017]